At the G20 summit 2023 expected to take place in September in New Delhi, India, the world will be following the group’s plans on increasing or not its efforts to spearhead the energy transition.
According to sources with knowledge of the talks that have told Bloomberg, G20 wants to commit to tripling renewable capacity by 2030 but also allow for fossil fuel development by seeking increased use of carbon capture.
Back in July 2023, G20 countries proposed to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030, however, Saudi Arabia and Russia – two of the top three largest fossil fuels producers in the world, have firmly opposed the plan. Other countries like China – the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, and coal exporters South Africa and Indonesia, also stood against.
The stance of the world’s most dependent countries on fossil fuels is a strong signal they do not intend to reduce emissions fast enough (or at all) to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
On September 5th, Saudi Arabia and Russia also announced they would extend their respective ongoing oil supply cuts through the end of the year, placing maximizing revenues from the fossil fuel sector at the heart of their decisions.
That comes after a summer where the world experienced record-breaking heatwaves and recently, floodings around the world. Scientists have reached a consensus that recent weather abnormalities are resulting from climate change caused by burning fossil fuels and releasing those climate warming emissions in ambient air.
G20 has repeatedly failed to back its climate commitments with actions even though the global economic situation has offered new momentum in the energy transition. The Russia-Ukrainian war has provided an opportunity to accelerate clean energy deployment in order to cut dependence on Russian fossil fuel exports.
Even though global leaders have united around this opportunity, G20 poured record levels of public money into fossil fuels subsidies in 2022 representing $1.4 trillion, despite having promised to reduce some of it, according to studies. As a contrast, G20 has previously announced $265 billion in subsidies for renewable power generation between 2020 and June 2023.
“The G20 accounts for 80% of global emissions. Within the group, however, an individual’s coal emissions in 2022 were notably higher, with per capita figures reaching 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide, compared to the global average of 1.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide,” according to climate change think tank Ember.
G20 leaders are faced with decisions where they could continue to maximize production from fossil fuels at the cost of rising emissions, severe climate catastrophes and human lifes or they could unite around stronger commitments backed with targets to actually start phasing out fossil fuels, increase renewable capacity and carbon capture deployment where cleaner options are not available. Failing again to reach a consensus on a bolder climate policy would translate into failure to serve public interests.